Monday December 20th 2010
A little about my one full day in Amsterdam;
I woke up bright and early (as usual) to head off to a vintage clothes market that I found while browsing brochures the night before. I was really feeling that early part because I did not have the best sleep last night: the lights in the room were on until well past 2am and being my first time staying in a hostel, I did not know if it was proper hostel etiquette to turn them off before everyone returned for the night. Looking back, I should have just flicked the switch because I don’t think some people made it back that night.
I set out by a little past 9 am in search of the Waterloopein Market. I finally got there a little before 10am and they had not even started setting up, so I axed it from my agenda. En route to my next stop, I passed by the flower market, and they had not started setting up either.
By the time I got to the Van Gogh museum, it was a quarter after 10 and there was already a small line outside. The museum only opened at 10am, but five minutes of waiting in line in Europe is a rarity, so I considered myself lucky.
The museum consists of three floors plus the main floor (permanent collection) and an exhibition addition (changing exhibits). The permanent collection is all about (you guessed it!) Van Gogh and his influences; the likes of Millet, Rembrandt and Monet. Through out the four floors his life is divided into sections by where he was living at the time.
|house boats galore|
Amsterdam is an absolutely gorgeous city. The four (and taller) buildings are all breath taking. Although they look like one large building with many faces, they are actually each individual and very narrow buildings. The odd time, the top level appears to be larger than the main floor and they tilt out. It really it something!
Of course I have to mention the canals. There are tons of them! Unfortunately that is all I know. I have no idea why there are so many but I do they are filled with houseboats.
What I should have done for the day, instead of walking everywhere, which was not really a problem, was rent a bike. Everyone bikes. Considering all the trams, busses and narrow streets, I don’t know why you would want to drive anyways.
|somebody live here please.|
Something I should comment on, is no where in Europe, so far, is it mandatory to remove the snow. All over Amsterdam there is a two to three centimetre deep layer of slush. It is partially frozen, so it is not like walking in watery snow, but it also is not dry like out Saskatoon snow. We may get a harsh cold winter, but when you throw in our dry climate, and snow removal system, we really don’t have it that bad. Plus we’re used to it haha.
On top of walking through the slush, you have to watch where you step. For one, there are trams and people everywhere (just giving you a feel for the town). Then the faint distinction between the roads and the sidewalks is this black stone that runs along every street and is dangerously slippery. It is funny to see people slipping while on the go, until you slip into a slush filled hole and lose a falafel.
|Outside the Anne Frank House|
|probably my favorite photo|
|too chilly to swim :(|
|Amsterdam Centraal Station|
|it was like a harbour.|
You may have noticed earlier that I used the words “café” and “coffee shop” differently. In Amsterdam, they are not interchangeable. To add to the mix, I will throw in the bars/pubs. First of all, a café is simply a café; a place to get coffee or tea and read the paper. You can not smoke anything in a café. Being very different in Amsterdam, are the coffee shops. The coffee shops are where you can legally buy weed, drinks (ranging from a coffee to a beer, depending) and you can smoke your weed there too. The kind of funny part is that you are not allowed to smoke tobacco in the coffee shops. If you roll a joint and throw some tobacco in there, the moment you light it up, you break the law. Weird isn’t it? Finally the bars. Simply put; they’re bars. You can smoke weed there and maybe cigarettes (and etc.) but it really is left up to the owner to decide. You can smoke marijuana outside too, even right in front of the cops. They decided to treat it more as a health issue than a criminalization, leaving the police to worry only about the more serious drugs. And I guess it seems to be working.
|Flower Market at night. |
Half decent photo.. sorry
|IN the flower market haha|
I headed back to the hostel to make myself some supper (mmm pasta!) and I managed to make some friends. Two of them were a brother sister pair from Chicago and the other guy was from Valencia, Spain. All three of them had just arrived in the city. After our meals we headed out to Centrum to see what we could see, and of course, I gave them a crash course just like I am to you.
I would have to say that the funniest part of the evening was when my hands got too cold to hold a map and keep us in the right direction. The boy from Chicago was dead set on guiding us, and not wanting to burst his bubble, I let him lead us in the (wrong) direction(s) for a bit. Entertainment is entertainment right? Especially when your entertainment states “I forgot I had my compass!” and whips out his iPhone. Need a compass? There’s an app for that! Haha, it was pretty funny.
|Red Light Distrcit (with a bike in front, which|
is actually rather fitting for Amsterdam)
see, not THAT RED..
We finally got back (I gave in and helped a little) and the two from Chicago headed to bed. It really was not very late, maybe after 9pm, so the Spaniard and I got a tea and hung out in the “hang out area” in the hostel, trying to chat. I know nest to no Spanish and really had not considered on brushing up on it before a trip to Germany. He knew a little bit of English. Thankfully his phone had Google Translator on it, which made the rough spots less rough and somewhat hilarious. It was a good time.